Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Atlantic Shift

Listening to Monocle24, “The Atlantic Shift”, as if I of all people would need that. From Halifax to Hamburg, I will cross its cold waters twice this spring. Before summer, I also hope to make it to St Petersburg, Warsaw and Tel Aviv. So, spinning globe alright.

Giving a lecture on conservatism the other day, I came to think about how treacherous yet indispensable self-irony is. While Kierkegaard makes the distinction between “irony” and “humour”, with only the latter allowing for the fullness of love and reconciliation, it still seems as if even the most nihilistic forms of irony would be better than the seriousness by which many conservative people view themselves.

Yesterday, Per Gudmundson suggested that “more responsible politicians” would have closed the door for refugees from Uzbekistan (and thereby preventing Rakhmat Akilov from carrying out his terror attack in Stockholm last year). No, "more responsible politicians” would have prevented Uzbekistan from sliding into authoritarianism in the first place. As I have said repeatedly, there is no going back to a world of closed doors. The 21st century should be a time when we domesticate the global, not a time of isolationism and unchecked fear of those who are ever so slightly different from ourselves. Never before in human history have we been more alike, maybe that is also part of the reason why we seem so obsessed with whatever differences that remain?

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

KLR

Down in Kalmar, my mother has just signed up for a course in creative writing. While I may not follow in her footsteps, there is an undeniable beauty in the unfinished. As such, it is perhaps not surprising that Rawls & Me is much about incomplete narratives and loose threads.

In the garage, I found an old baggage tag marked “KLR”. It reminded me of summers past, of what it feels like to fly home to Scandinavia, the sudden serenity, to be picked up by a red tandem bike at the tiny airport only hours after walking through the endless corridors of Heathrow.

I already said it all. That is perhaps the only thing that I have against writing fiction, as if somehow the shortcomings were about aesthetics. Being a parent, it is of course easy to blame everything on the lack of silence but I think I never measured up anyhow. So, I guess I better stick to writing journal articles about the end times. 

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Campania

In 1953, John Steinbeck wrote: ”Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”. Sometimes, and perhaps a bit like Northern California, the Amalfi Coast can be just a glass of good wine away. Together with some linguine with lots of olives, capers and parsley, I let the Arctic fade ever so slightly.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Frivolous Friday

After a week lecturing my way through the history of political ideas while reaching a whopping 42.195 metres on the treadmill since the 1st of January, today offered a rather different journey as I flew through the air and hit the ice with a surprising amount of force. Stranded in my red office chair afterwards, I had a bit of an analgesic booking bonanza, including tickets to Memphis for a friend as well as my wife’s annual Gregynog adventure. I know, I am weird, but booking flights can be such a perfect distraction sometimes.

Later in the day, as I was struggling with the revisions for my co-authored article on ecomodernist citizenship, a friend and former student turned up. Once he has wrapped up his studies here in Umeå, he is most likely heading down to Lund for his MA in the fall. I have to admit I felt a sting of envy when thinking about autumn leaves outside the old library, a Weißbier at Rauhrackel or, well, all the other things that make Lund into Lund.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Potage

I tend to be a bit ambivalent with regard to the Francophone world. Unlike say Italy, it is a universe of which I have only seen glimpses. While I have been to Paris maybe 3-4 times and to the Mediterranean coast more often than that, I always feel somewhat out of my depth. This goes as much for the cuisine as for the language (just try to pronunce "Boissonneault" while looking cool). Still, today I made potage with goat cheese and sunflower kernels accompanied by a Petit Chablis from the old world version of “Saint Clair”. Whatever qualms I may have had, I am happy to report that the final result was much appreciated!

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Left Field

My mentor at Rutgers, Stephen Eric Bronner once wrote that the Enlightenment idea of progress “militated against closure and perfection”. Unlike contemporary Green or nationalist thinkers who desperately seek stability and homogeneity, the Enlightenment was about remaining curious in an open-ended world.

Reading Geoff Mann’s and Joel Wainwright’s new book “Climate Leviathan”, it would be an understatement to say that much seems to be at stake in the decades ahead. Rather than expending my energy on refuting yet another Malthusian tome, I guess I should wrap up the proofreading of my own forthcoming article “The High-Energy Planet”. In the article, I make the case that ecomodernism is essentially a form of social democracy for the Anthropocene, offering a vision of the future that has room for the unexpected and a radical plurality of lifeworlds.

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Though originally from Galicia, the albariño grapes have certainly found a hospitable home along the rivers of Gisborne, N.Z. With a Tortilla Española and some kale salad, I am again half-way between worlds. Next week, I will be back again with Aristotle, Hobbes and Kant.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Wolf Inside

Outside a snowstorm is raging with winds gusting up to 20 m/s as I wrap up the first day of the semester. It is a day that got off to a flying start with a long-awaited notification of acceptance from the journal Global Change, Peace and Security followed by a massive seven hours of teaching. In the afternoon, I had the privilege of meeting a new group of future police officers. Looking out over the classroom, it was a bit like being back in the mirror universe or at least witnessing the aftermath of some eugenics programme. Everyone in the room looking so incredibly fit, motivated and capable.

The other week I read that, unlike some other countries, Sweden explicitly prohibits anyone with a neuropsychiatric disorder such as ADHD from becoming a police officer. At a time when the university is doing all it can to accommodate students with every possible special need, the police education unit is somehow a window into what norms that our society really has when you cut through all the discourse. Not that I am necessarily any better myself, adding another eight kilometres to my weekly treadmill routine (and no, that has nothing to do with "being healthy").

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Spinning globe

Opening the coffee package featured in my previous post, I am back on the road outside Sebastopol, CA. Sensory experiences that quickly can get the globe spinning. It is sad that some people want the world to stop. Yesterday in Svenska Dagbladet, Ann Heberlein again attacked those who are dreaming of “open borders, unlimited freedom, floating identities and relative truths”. Guess that it is me she is thinking of.

What is sad is not only that some people think that ontological permanence and stability is actually attainability but that they fail to recognize how counter-productive their proposed repressive measures would be. ISIS will not disappear by the spreading of islamophobia. No matter how small we try to make the world, the walls will eventually crack. Instead, the only realistic way forward calls for a broadening of our perspectives and the cultivation of our shared humanity.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Forecast

The Swedish postal service is not really what it used to be. But after three weeks in transit, I finally received the 2018 edition of The Forecast packed with maritime adventures in the Japanese Inland Sea, Brisbane sunshine and memories of a time when California “meant cruising up the coast with not a worry in the world”.

Academically, today marked a milestone as I finally passed 200 citations according to Google Scholar. Like many other things in the late modern winner-takes-it-all universe, 200 may seem like quite an achievement until you compare with those who have 20 000 citations… Fortunately, I will have no time to reflect on these things as another mad teaching race is just around the corner, lasting until mid-February. At least, I was able to pick up a Lee “seasonal worker blazer” at the MQ sale :-)

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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

No 18 Grand Central

After spending six hours grading student papers, I was myself graded just as the train made it into Stockholm. With the verdict being a rather encouraging “revise and resubmit”, I applied for a new visa to Russia and did what Lucky would have done, as in checking out the “co-working oasis” now housed in what used to be the main offices of the Swedish Railways. Sometimes, it is almost hilarious to think that these bubbles filled with words like “burn rate” actually exist. For the rest, I let the three pictures above speak for themselves.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Pumpkin risotto

Back at work I submitted a review to the journal Time & Society, supervised a couple of thesis students and put together an abstract for APSA in Boston. Otherwise, 2018 will be kind of a slow year in terms of conferences as I will focus most of my energy on writing grant proposals.

Tonight I made pumpkin risotto with an old favourite from New Zealand. Of course it had me dreaming of distant shores. Though the antipodean universe will probably not feature in my 2018 travels, I already have tickets to a few new places...

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Monday, January 01, 2018

Fresh start effect

To accommodate what behavioural economists call the “fresh start effect”, my gym is staying open until 11 pm tonight. For my own part, I decided to keep it relatively sane and went for a slow 8.3 km run (the same as around the lake) on the treadmill. Still, 2018 feels like a fresh start. I am a bit reminded of January 2014 and my last semester at HUFS, a time of closure but also new horizons opening up. Eddie was only 1.5 years old then and we were on a rooftop in the United Arab Emirates. Yesterday he asked me why I only have food on my blog and not photos of him so I thought this picture would be a fun flashback.

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